the children cried and begged, the milkbird would
not come back to them.
Bantu folktales of the Basotho are rather different from
those of most other African peoples. Tempered by early Christian
influences, these stories tend to be of a more relaxed and
benevolent nature and contain less cruelty and wickedness.
Unlike other African tales, they
also often have happy endings and usually contain moral
messages; this is particularly uncommon of Bantu tales.
all myths, they have something to tell about the ways of
living and thinking of the people from which they originate.
This does not mean that they are an accurate reflection
of the modern Bantu. Times change, in Africa as everywhere
else, but for the student of the old ways of people, these
folktales are an irreplaceable source of human understanding,
of receiving messages from the past, from people in a distant
country with a distinct culture. At the same time, these
tales possess literary beauty; they are gems of artistic
creativeness, well worth preserving and presenting to a
This, the second part of our collection, contains two such
stories. In the first the lesson is: "Parents! Never leave
your children at home on their own. Take them with you to
the fields and teach them agriculture. The neighbors and
their children might lead them to their downfall." The magic
bird is the spirit of an ancestor buried in the field. Ancestor
spirits must be propitiated before cultivation can begin,
since the land belongs to them—the spirits of the earth.
Likewise, the thunderbird is an ancestral god, who looks
after his descendants like a good grandfather, teaching
them as well.
The second story is a warning and a lesson for fathers not
to arrange their daughters' marriage foolishly. The hyena
men are a famous breed of South African demons. They are
nice men during the day, but by night they devour people.
The father of the two girls is a fool, and so he loses his